The rise in bacterial resistance
Is partly because there have been no new classes of antibiotics since the 1960s
Almost since the beginning of the antibiotic era bacterial resistance has been seen as the major obstacle to successful treatment. Hardly any group of antibiotics has been introduced into clinical practice to which some bacterium has not developed resistance. Quantifying the impact of this resistance has often proved difficult, and misconceptions have often resulted from incomplete surveillance. Now that our surveillance methods are much better, we know that levels of antibiotic resistance are rising inexorably - as illustrated by this week's paper on trends in England and Wales (p 213).1 Yet it has taken a long time to realise the extent of the problem, and there is still much that we need to learn about the mechanisms.
Resistance was often minimised as a problem simply because the problem was not known or recognised. At the end of the 1960s the surgeon general of the United States stated that “we could